Many computer users are not aware of the many customization options that exist within all Windows operating systems for organizing your desktop area. Most users assume the basic structure that appears when you fire up your machine is pretty much “you get what you see”, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is understandable most of us do not put much thought into customizing our desktops, we might add a background picture and make some small tweaks, but it usually ends there.
However, the main reason many people don’t customize more is they just don’t realize how much time and effort they can save by making a few changes. If you are anything like me, then you have probably spent several years feeling like there were missing desktop icons because you continually have to open programs from a level or two deep within the start menu of Windows. Every time you access a program that way it adds three to five clicks and about as many seconds to your overall navigation process. Pretty much irrelevant, right? Well, if you are accessing ten different programs an average of nine or ten times a day that way, then all said and done it is probably adding about 20 minutes of wasted time to your day.
Just like any high-frequency calculation you can change a variable or two and the time estimates will dramatically change, but 20 minutes for someone that spends the better part of their day on a computer is probably a pretty reasonable estimate. Additionally, opening and closing multiple programs over and over again gets to be a fair amount of effort, especially when you are doing it all day, every day. If you plan on staying in business for the long-term, it might sound silly, but sometimes small things like this add up to big dollars over many weeks and months. Basically, it is just plain inefficient.
In Windows, you have two main desktop areas that can be customized for productivity. The first is your desktop area which takes up most of the screen and is typically where you would create and use desktop icon shortcuts. The second area is the taskbar which is very often underutilized but offers a world of improvement if you take advantage of it.
In general, creating shortcuts and placing them on your desktop is actually not a great way to easily access files and programs. The desktop shortcut icons you normally place in the main desktop area end up hidden under whatever program you are currently working with. This means you have to constantly close or minimize your current program so you can view the shortcuts hidden underneath. Then you open the new program and repeat the same process of closing, minimizing, searching for the right desktop icon, and double-clicking an icon to open a new file.
A good way to accomplish the exact same results yet much faster and with less effort is by utilizing the taskbar. Pinning programs to your taskbar instead of using a desktop shortcut icon offers several advantages. If the program you want to access is pinned to the taskbar, then you do not have to minimize or close your current program, as the taskbar and pinned programs remain visible at all times regardless of what application you are currently working with.
Additionally, programs that are pinned to the taskbar instead of your desktop only require a single click to open. This means with a single click you can instantly change the program you are working with. There is no need to hide or close any other programs and you do not have to move through various screens to find the program icon you need.
If your desktop is not properly organized it can sometimes feel like there are missing desktop icons, as you will most likely end up spending a lot of time opening and closing programs as well as trying to locate files.
The most efficient way to structure your desktop area is by dividing programs into two or three sections. The largest desktop area that most people use to store all of their shortcut icons should be reserved only for programs that you do not use every day. Typically system maintenance utility programs that you might use once per month and similar programs are a good choice for this section. If you are not accessing these programs daily, then it won’t make much difference if it takes a few extra steps to access them.
The second area to use is the taskbar. All of the programs you use on a daily basis and with the greatest frequency should be pinned to the taskbar. This will allow you instant access in a single click. Keep in mind, you can also pin folders and files to the taskbar. Therefore, if you have a large number of programs and not enough room on the taskbar, then you can organize three or four folders and assign groups of icons to each.
As an additional option, there are ways to add an additional taskbar, change the size of the current taskbar or several options for program docking software you can use to organize and consolidate functions.
Optimizing your desktop for maximum productivity actually involves many small items, that when added together, represent a significant savings of both time and money. We just barely scratched the surface with the few items mentioned above, but if you need assistance with organizing your system we would be happy to assist.
We offer affordable and reliable remote computer support and our technicians are very skilled in fixing a wide range of computer problems. Our services are designed specifically for individual home users and home office users that need quality technical support without a big bill.